This is about as close as I think we will get to a diving watch from MB&F. The jellyfish-inspired, central-tourbillon-equipped timepiece comes in rose gold or titanium, and it’s friggin’ awesome on the wrist. MB&F quality never seems to falter, and neither does their imaginative capacity. While you can’t actually dive with it (though swimming should be OK), this masterpiece of weird wrist art is just what we needed to see on the first day of SIHH to liven us up and demonstrate that at least MB&F still totally “gets” what collectors want. The authentic rotating diver-style bezel with the ceramic insert is the icing on the cake. Price is 98,000 CHF in titanium and 118,000 CHF in 18k red gold.
Ending one generation of TimeWalker for another, Montblanc transforms its popular urban sport watch collection for a traditional racing-inspired timepiece. Its looks are cosmopolitan yet classic in a package that feels familiar, with the spirit of a vintage sports watch made back when people actually needed their wristwatch to tell the time. It’s decently priced in a 43mm-wide case with a one-piece black ceramic rotating bezel and contains a solid 7750 automatic chronograph movement. This is the watch Montblanc needed (assuming they invest in the right type of marketing materials) to really reinvigorate Western watch markets. Prices will be US $4,290 on steel bracelet and $3,985 on a strap.
There are few watches that one can truly say they want to wear for purely selfish reasons, without any interest in what people seeing it on them will think. That doesn’t imply that the extremely high-end and limited A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite watch isn’t extremely attractive, but rather that it’s a timepiece for serious watch lovers who have no problem being seen in public gazing at their wrist and drooling a little bit. This is a classic grand complication watch done totally right. Requiring months to produce each movement, it contains a perpetual calendar, chronograph, moon phase indicator, tourbillon, and fusee-and-chain transmission system. Pure, old-style watch porn, this is an aspirational item for the truly sophisticated in both taste and heart. Price is €480,000.
Oh, the IWC Da Vinci. For years, the Da Vinci collection suffered like many of its step-brothers do at other brands: being a secondary collection at a brand renowned for one definitive line of watches deprives you of most of the spotlight. For some time, the IWC Da Vinci was pretty much completely gone, but now it’s back, restyled with classical design elements like a round case and timeless-looking dial, as well as with modern and appreciated additions, like pivoting lugs for greater comfort. The Perpetual Calendar Chronograph – this tourbillon with a most questionable date indication notwithstanding – is “The Daddy” in the new Da Vinci collection… and, for its complicated but balanced aesthetic and amazing movement, it is our top pick from IWC this year. Pricing is $29,900 for steel and $40,200 for gold versions of the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra “Daytona”
In much of the world, Baume & Mercier was once considered a maker of elegant sports watches – an image they can regain if they keep making models like the new Daytona. A clever story and good quality design pair together to make a sport watch that doesn’t look like everything else – and yet is still beautiful in the classic sense. The Baume & Mercier Clifton Club Shelby Cobra Daytona is an evolution on the Shelby Chronograph, which was launched a few years ago to marry Baume & Mercier with traditional American sports cars. Daytona Coupe designer Peter Brock – both a watch lover and absolute icon of American car design and racing – helped create the watch with Baume & Mercier in honor of the car he designed in the 1960s. The split-color dial in blue and white is the cherry model, and matches the car quite nicely. Price is $7,950.
When Ulysse Nardin first introduced the Sonata several years ago, it was a wonderful concept in a design that wasn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser. For 2017, the good side of being owned by a fashion group (Kering) drove Ulysse Nardin to clean up and refine the Sonata with a new design that maintains the very nice movement inside. In steel with the white dial and black hands, this watch is especially appealing. What does it do? First, it has a dual-time function along with a big date indicator (in addition to the time, that is). Then, it also has an alarm that can be set 24 hours (more than the typical 12 hours) in advance, both easily and clearly. The alarm sound isn’t an ear-abusing vibrating squeal, but rather an attractive chime similar to that of a minute repeater. Price is $28,000.
While Girard-Perregaux’s WW.TC has been around since 2000, few versions have been as wearable as the new 1966 WW.TC. With a lovely vintage-inspired design and a perfect 40mm case, the 1966 WW.TC comes in both steel and pink gold. Both models are 12mm thick and feature a silver opaline dial that is a classically stylish and legible look that works well with the world timer layout. Being a full world timer, the local time is read from the main time display while a 24-hour disc rotates to display the time in the standard 24 time zones. With matching crowns on each side of the case (left is for setting the city ring, right is local time), the Girard-Perregaux 1966 WW.TC preserves the balance and simplicity that informs their 1966 aesthetic. Inside, you’ll find the 5.7mm-thick GP03300-0022 automatic movement, ticking at 4Hz and offering a 46-hour power reserve. The WW.TC line has always offered the excellent functionality of a world timer (often alongside a chronograph) and, with the addition of this new 40mm line, GP has made this functionality more accessible and easier to wear. The rose gold Girard-Perregaux 1966 WW.TC will carry a price tag of US $23,800, while the steel version will retail for $12,300 on a leather strap or $13,000 on a 1966-style multi-link steel bracelet. Long live the World Timer, especially in 40mm.
We haven’t seen that many stupendously complicated watches this year at SIHH, but with its 23 complications, the Vacheron Constantin Celestia sure helps suppress our appetite. Actually – and a bit ostentatiously – called the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, the most impressive part about this new piece was its thickness (or rather, lack thereof). We have gotten used to seeing ever more complicated watches get ever more unwieldy as watchmakers try and squeeze more features into them. With that in mind, the most shocking specification of the Vacheron Constantin Celestia was not its 514-component movement or its impressive, 21-day-long power reserve, but the case’s mere 13.6mm thickness. And the price for all this wafer-thin magnificence? Vacheron tell us it’s “just under $1,000.000.”
The Cartier Drive Extra Flat is a second-generation spin on the Drive line that was launched at SIHH last year. A consummate understated dress watch, the Cartier Drive Extra Flat is 6.6mm thick, with versions in both rose or white gold. With a width of 38mm and not even as much as a seconds hand to clutter its dial, the Cartier Drive Extra Flat is clean and legible, aided by a flat crystal that is substantially less reflective than those of its Drive siblings. Cartier borrowed Piaget’s 430P to form their 430MC caliber, a super-thin hand-wound movement offering a power reserve of 36 hours. On wrist, especially in white gold, the Cartier Drive Extra Flat is stunning. With a simple but gorgeously executed design, the Cartier Drive Extra Flat is pure Cartier style with no added calories, and is easily one of the most impressive and wearable dress watches from SIHH this year (just check it out on that gray leather strap!). Priced from US $15,600 in rose gold and $16,700 for the 200-piece white gold limited edition, the Cartier Drive Extra Flat begs the question: can we get it in steel, please?
A watch with a 50-year warranty is not one of the things we would have expected to see at SIHH 2017 in our wildest dreams; and yet, that is exactly what Panerai gave us with the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700. Wrapped in a 49mm-wide Carbotech, carbon-based composite case, we find the PAM700’s new P.3001/C caliber that has… DLC-coated everything (nearly). A combination of DLC-coated mainspring barrels, DLC-coated silicon escapement and DLC-coated jewels make for a largely maintenance-free movement, as these super hard coatings remove the need for lubrication – eroded, old lubrication is the single greatest cause for service needs in traditional movements. The dial, to go with the “LAB” theme, is very, very black, thanks to a carbon nanotube coated material. Under warranty for 50 years and limited to 50 pieces, price is €50,000 – it’s on you to guess which figure they came up with last.
If you close your eyes and someone places this Richard Mille Split-Second Tourbillon Chronograph on your wrist, you’d not be faulted for having no idea it is a circa-million-dollar timepiece weighing in at just 40g, this “lightest in the world” of its kind high-complication watch is an incredible triumph of micromechanical engineering and materials science. Sure, you pay a hefty sum for a watch that uses so little metal (and it does have an underwear waistband-style elastic strap), but this mega-watch is just one of a large collection of impossible-not-to-smile-at (and -desire) watches from Richard Mille for the ultra-wealthy and privileged. It just goes to show that even when you are at the top, there are ways to reward yourself. Price is 980,000 CHF before taxes.